If you don’t have a termite bond, get one. If you have one and the renewal rate has skyrocketed, here’s why it happened and what you can do about it.
This spring has been a very active one for termites, those wood destroying insects that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home before you can even say “entomology.”
You may have had neighbors were shouting on social media to turn off your outside lights so you’d be protected from the zombie apocalypse swarms. What most of us didn’t know was the wheeling, dealing, litigation reeling had already set homeowners up for the perfect supply-and-demand storm of skyrocketing costs and limited suppliers.
Here’s the background:
In the last few years, a couple of independent termite companies that traditionally supplied economical bonds were gobbled up by larger companies: Terminix reportedly bought out Guardian. Then Arrow, an Atlanta-based company, bought Knockout Pest & Termite in June 2018.
Meanwhile, the then-standard practice of paying forward the existing termite bond when a house was sold suddenly wasn’t so standard:
n Terms of bonds were changed upon transfer, potentially limiting the scope of coverage should termites eat away the floor joists Problem was, nobody noticed these changes until there was a termite problem.
n Realtors did notice that their deals were jeopardized just before closing when certain termite companies revealed that they would NOT transfer at closing but after, when an additional fee was paid by the buyer. Or they would not produce a written contract. So Realtors drifted away from these companies, opting for the smaller shops. And you guessed it, those smaller businesses were the aforementioned acquisitions of Guardian and Knockout.
Then the Mobile Metro area gained the dubious distinction of being at the top of the heap of areas infested with termites, according to Terminix.
Poor business practices – shortcuts or ineptitude – lead to a rise in claims. One of those claims happened to be made by a Fairhope attorney, specializing in real estate. He is suing Terminix.
Meanwhile, this was happening, according to Campbell Law PC, in Birmingham:
$1,655,763.75 Fraud Award Against Terminix in Daphne, Alabama
Citing 30 Years of Criminal Conduct Arbitrator Awards $1, 655,763.75 in Baldwin County Alabama
A retired trial judge heard evidence in a four-day trial in January 2019. On April 29, 2019 Retired Judge Eugenia Benedict issued a sixteen-page Award for a Daphne, Alabama widow for $1, 655,763.75 against Terminix International. The widow’s husband died while the case was pending. The Award also provides that Terminix must pay attorney fees and expenses to her lawyers in the amount of $347,152.75 and $750,000 in punitive damages.
Campbell Law PC represents property owners with claims against termite companies. Campbell says, “Come June 3, we will have eight lawyers who do almost nothing but help property owners with claims against their termite companies. We are dedicated to helping these victims.” Campbell Law PC can be reached toll-free at 877-586-7582 or TermiteTeam@CampbellLitigation.com.
The lengthy saga of this lawsuit is available on the Campbell Law Facebook page.
You know when the lawyers make termite litigation a cottage industry you have a problem.
But consumers didn’t realize it until Terminix renewal skyrocket into the $900 realm vs. $350 or so. Arrow says it will bond homes starting at $499 going up to $699.
There are some small independent suppliers who are writing bonds more cheaply than this. Look up Alapest and Safety First, to name a couple.
But the burden is on you to protect your property and rights.
There are a couple of types of termite protection systems to choose from: soil-applied barrier treatment; and a bait system. Some suppliers only offer one system.
You’ll want a contract that offers not just treatment but repair and replacement in the event of damage and notice the dollar figure for that, as well. You’ll want to actually have a written contract. If the company can’t supply that, then you have nothing.